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Netters edge Chippewa for BRC win

Olivia Kittleson and Liz Radosevich pulled out a big three-set win at No. 1 doubles to give the Wildcat girls tennis team a 4-3 victory over Chippewa Falls in a Big Rivers Conference match in Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Kittleson and Radosevich squeaked out a 7-6 (5) victory in the first set and lost the second set, 1-6, before storming back for a 6-2 third set victory to tilt the outcome in River Falls' favor in the final match of the day.

Wildcat head coach Chad Forde said the pair showed a lot of toughness to come back and win the final set.

"They have been in a tough spot where they play the top players on many teams and have had to fight some mental battles to keep their spirits up," he said. "So going into a third set that was going to decide the whole match was definitely going to test that mental toughness. I admit that when they lost the second set 1-6 I was nervous about our chances because that is really hard to build back that momentum after losing a set so lopsided. However, Olivia and Liz played by far their best set of the season when it mattered most and were by far the superior team in both skills, power, and physical fitness."

Forde said the rest of the matches went back-and-forth early on. Gina Filkins earned a 7-5, 6-3 victory at the No. 1 singles spot and Grace Wachtler picked up a 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory at No. 4 singles while Kalea Lemke and Sam Gregor posted a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 doubles to set the stage for Kittleson and Radosevich's heroics.

"The match was a seesaw of emotions where early on it looked like we were going to struggle to find the matches to get to that magic number of four," Forde said. "Then we picked up our game a lot to where it looked like the advantage. However, then we lost a heartbreaker at three singles with Courtney Westbrook and the score was suddenly 3-3 with just the one doubles match left. It was exciting to see those two girls step up and have the excitement of winning the match after having to fight through some tough losses early in the season."

One day earlier the Cats dropped a 5-2 nonconference decision to Altoona. Westbrook won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 singles and Wachtler won, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4 to account for the Wildcat scoring.

"Altoona was a match we picked up recently after getting rained out of a tournament," Forde said. "I knew we could easily have a picked up a match with some surrounding schools that would have been an easy win, but I wanted to play Altoona because I knew it would be a good test and they have played many similar teams as us. It was one of those I wish we had a redo button, because we did not play our best tennis and were a little flat footed, yet still only lost 2-5. I viewed it as a good warm up for the more important match the following day against Chippewa Falls."

The Cats wrapped up regular season conference play with a home dual against Eau Claire North Tuesday, Sept 19, and will visit Red Wing Thursday, Sept. 21, before the BRC Tournament Saturday, Sept. 23, at Eau Claire North.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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